Classroom video observation: What school leaders want to know

By Andrew Goff, Director, ONVU Learning

The ONVU Learning team has recently enjoyed several intense days of conversations with senior school leaders and Multi-Academy Trust CEOs at the Inspiring Leadership Conference 2019, The Sheffield Hallam Festival of Education, and at Childcare Expo in Manchester. It’s clear that schools are facing an increasingly complex set of challenges right now, yet it was encouraging to see the ways to support their goals of improving outcomes the school, teachers, and students.

Video-based lesson observation is now seen as a solution to help solve many of the problems schools face; teaching and learning improvement through teacher development, teacher retention through extra support and coaching, and teacher recruitment through offering early career development opportunities.

Here are the questions that we were most asked by school leaders seeking to progress to the next stages of talking to their colleagues on SLT and then their School Governors or Trustees about using video based solutions in their schools.

I’m a teacher reluctant to introduce this technology… convince me

The key is to build teacher trust by giving teachers ownership of their video. All the schools we work with see the implementation as a supportive initiative and we work with all stakeholders to create transparent and teacher-led policies and processes which our technology supports. From our perspective the only approach to adopt, which is professional and ethically sound, involves the teacher being in complete control of the video, secure in the knowledge that it’s a tool for them and their development, and not a tool to be used against them. Once teachers are convinced on the integrity of the use of our system and using it, it has transformed observations from a subjective experience to something that many teachers are excited to engage with and see the wider purpose of their own personal development from. Many teachers have previously grappled with mobile video recording equipment to record their lessons but not sustained this through the overhead of time involved and what we’ve now come to call, “the cost of distraction”.

It’s important to note that the technology is not the whole solution. Any video-based lesson observation solution should be enabled with guidelines to aid self-reflection, or access to a qualified mentor to assist the teacher to see what’s there, not what they think is there.

How do we navigate GDPR when using video in the classroom?

Now over a year since the introduction of GDPR most schools understand what they need to do when adopting new technology and systems but some schools are still grappling with the detail of what is required. Schools need to provide clear documentation to respect the rights and safety of those in their schools. In the first instance schools need to establish their lawful basis for processing the video data, then have supporting internal documentation to justify this, and then finally back this up with through the necessary data protection impact assessments (DPIA). The majority of schools that we work with substantiate their lawful use of video based systems and the processing of that data through ‘public task’; in that a school is of public benefit and that the professional development needs of its teachers are paramount to its success. DPIAs should ensure for example that systems being used have the appropriate encryption levels, examine who has access and when, with the appropriate notifications taking place.

But what do parents think about classroom video?

This is very much connected to the school having well constructed and communicated policies and practice in place. It’s important to fully involve parents when introducing a video observation system to support teacher development. Parents are often impressed by the opportunities that video-based coaching offers to deliver better teaching for their children and that offers the possibility of ensuring teacher continuity through higher retention. They have their legitimate concerns, but with a clear explanation as to the purposes the technology is put, who has access to the footage, and what the security and compliance process is – these can all be turned into positives around the teaching being provided to their offspring.

How do you introduce the use of video based reflection and observation into the classroom?

This depends on the size of the school and budgets, but we’d initially advise running a pilot programme with volunteer teachers. They can share their experiences with colleagues and become ‘champions’ over time, making the whole process inclusive as the staff contribute to the development and expansion of the provision. Where you start depends on the strategic needs of your school. Given the shortage of teachers coming into the profession many schools are looking to implement the technology to support teachers that they have already and who need some extra support, or the NQTs coming into their schools for the first time, especially pertinent given the planned Early Careers Framework and the value and efficiency that can be added in rolling out this initiative.

What are the right objectives to set?

In all of this there is only one objective, to provide the best teaching and learning experience for the students by giving their teachers the best coaching and development opportunities. That may be through teacher self-reflection, coaching or with time the sharing of teaching practices between colleagues.

What would be good initial wins to achieve?

An increase in evidence informed conversations about the development of teaching and learning; NQTs being inspired to look at their practice and continue to develop it, more experienced teachers questioning their practice, and again enjoying the professional stimulus of looking at their classrooms in a way that they may not have done recently.

Weduc Acquires Schools Transport Management System STAR

Weduc, the whole school parental engagement and communications platform, has acquired STAR, the Schools Transport Automatic Register system for management of educational transport. Now known as Weduc Transport, this award-winning, innovative system enhances the safety, security, operational efficiency and transparency of the educational transport service.

Weduc Transport’s cutting-edge technology enables schools and parents to track children in real time on the bus journey to and from school.  It forms another exciting module of Weduc’s interactive software which combines all aspects of school communication and parental engagement, in an easy-to-use platform. Providing a point of connection between schools and parents during this important time of the day, this new module provides complete visibility and control of the progress of their children on the drive to and from school, with instant tracking of vehicle location and two-way communication between driver and school.

Dr Farhad Fassihi, the architect and developer of STAR said, “STAR fits neatly into the Weduc portfolio and adds an additional, vital dimension to the capabilities of the Weduc product.  We were impressed by the Weduc platform and instantly recognised the synergy that exists between our two systems.”

Daniel Woodcock, managing director, Weduc said, “I’m really thrilled to welcome STAR to the Weduc family.  This new technology matches our core values around enabling outstanding parental engagement and communications to education which now extends to travel to and from school.” 

Daniel continued,  “Additionally, schools, parents and bus companies can be more accountable for transportation through improved communications across key stakeholders.  A single communication platform simplifies parental engagement including information about issues such as lateness and breakdowns and more importantly, child safety.”

Curtains up as Dudley’s new music institute opening confirmed

A one-of-a-kind institute for popular music in the Black Country offering degrees for students seeking a career in a range of music industries will be opening its doors next year.

Resonance will have some of the best minds in music, teaching students everything from popular music performance, production, composition and business.

Based in the stunning Cable Plaza building on The Waterfront at Brierley Hill, Resonance will be offering a suite of courses under a franchise arrangement from Solent University in Southampton with courses uploaded to UCAS this summer.

The £9.5 million project will also create a vital community music hub. Musicians and organisations from across the region will be encouraged to make full use of the state-of-the-art facilities on offer. 

“We’re absolutely delighted to finally be in a position where we can confidently say ‘it’s coming’,” said David Barnard, co-director of Resonance. 

“Contractors have been on site for some weeks now and we should be ready to move in at the end of 2019. That’s when the fun really starts.”

From 2020, Resonance will provide undergraduate degrees in Popular Music Performance, Production, Digital Music and Music Business. Also, in the pipeline is a degree in Education and Wellbeing, due in 2021. 

By the third year and following the graduation of its first cohort, Resonance is hoping to offer an MA course in Contemporary Music Performance.

All courses delivered at Resonance will be led by industry professionals and will focus on developing a broad range of skills needed by the sector. 

“The priority is to immerse students into a real-world environment working on project briefs designed in partnership with industry colleagues,” David explained. 

“People say the music ‘industry’, but really it’s music ‘industries’ as there are so many avenues and opportunities for students to explore.

“For every star on stage, there’s an army of people behind-the-scenes, be they session musicians, songwriters, producers, sound engineers, stage managers, PR agents and more.

“Our programme will blend musical, technical and practical skills with personal and professional development, entrepreneurship and enterprise. Our objective is to create ‘work ready’ graduates, who are not frightened to explore new ideas and have a go. The Resonance Professional Diploma, running alongside our degree courses, will provide an enriching experience developing the essential ‘soft’ skills needed for an ever-changing global industry.”

Places at Resonance will be limited with applicants needing to attain between 96 and 112 UCAS points before an audition. Applications are expected to be open from September 2019.

Paul Rutter, Head of Music at Solent University, and published music industry author said: “I have travelled the world to see various different musical institutions and conservatoires and the Resonance project is highly impressive. I have not seen anything quite like it.”

“In the Cable Plaza building they have what must be the world’s best purposed modern popular music institute. The building and space dedicated to pop music study is exemplary, I doubt there is many out there that could compete. I’m sure it will be a huge success for the West Midlands pop music industries.”

The multi-million-pound project for the institute is backed by Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for Regeneration and Enterprise at Dudley Council who is pleased that the project is now underway.

He said: “Not only will Resonance solidify Dudley borough’s place on the map nationally, it will also bring hundreds of students to the area, resulting in a massive boost for the local and regional economy as a whole.”

“The building that is being refurbished for the institute is based in the heart of DY5, Dudley’s Business and Innovation Enterprise Zone, and its exciting new life will serve as a space to educate and stimulate creative minds for many years to come.”

The project is being supported by funding from the Black Country LEP which has approved a grant for £7.16million and financial support from Unity Trust Bank, and Arts Impact Fund.  

To find out more information search ‘Resonance Education’ on social media or email 

The education industry has the highest rates of stress reported by employees

Health and social care is the most stressful industry to work in while the education industry has the highest rates of stress reported by the employees, according to analysis by The Office Group (TOG).

TOG calculated an overall stress score for 12 industries across the UK, using public data on the number of self-reported stress cases; average full-time hours; number of days lost to self-reported stress; and the likelihood of future automation.

The research has found that health and social workers tend to work longer hours and report more cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety. While health and social care topped TOG’s stress scale, the education industry has the highest rates of stress reported by employees, with 82,000 reports of stress, depression or anxiety that have been exacerbated by work, affecting 2,370 employees per 100,000 (2.37%) compared to the average rate of 1,390 employees per 100,000 (1.39%).

How does your industry compare? These below are the industries with the highest stress score.

Rank Industry Stress Score %
1 Human health and social work activities 83.6%
2 Financial and insurance activities 80.8%
3 Public administration and defence; compulsory social security 78.0%
4 Education 73.8%
5 Administrative and support service activities 57.1%
6 Transportation and storage 55.7%
7 Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 52.9%
8 Professional, scientific and technical activities 47.3%
9 Accommodation and food service activities 34.8%
10 Manufacturing 29.2%
11 Construction 26.4%
12 Information and communication 25.0%

Sources: The Office Group; Office for National Statistics; Health and Safety Executive.

Around 2,320 of health and social workers per 100,000 employees (2.32%) report cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with 0.92 days lost per worker, which is higher than the average of 0.46 days per year.

Across all industries, there are an estimated 11,947 days taken as sick leave due to stress, depression or anxiety that has been caused or made worse by the employees’ job.

Alessa McNally, Head of Member Experience at The Office Group, said:

“All employers can put stress management practices in place to keep their employees as healthy as possible.

“We believe flexibility is fundamental to workplace wellbeing. That’s why our office members can work from all 35 of our locations. We provide a variety of spaces to work and recharge from, including meditation rooms, libraries, fitness gyms and roof terraces. We also provide a range of wellness services, such as nutrition workshops, yoga and meditation mornings.”

Health and social workers in full-time employment are paid for an average of 43 hours per week, which is 18.5% more than information and communication employees, who are the least likely to report work-related stress according to TOG’s research. Incidentally, information and communication workers are paid more money than any employees in any other industries, earning an average of £860 before tax, whereas health and social workers receive an average of £533 per week.

TOG also found that women report significantly higher cases of workplace stress than men (300,000 compared to 236,000), which raises the question of gender differences when it comes to verbalising or even admitting mental health issues.

As part of their research, TOG spoke to Mobfit, a London-based workplace wellbeing consultancy, who advocate using mindfulness techniques to combat stress in the workplace.

Mark Briant, Director of Mobfit, said:

“We’ve seen first-hand how mindfulness can help calm the mind. It allows you to be more present and better able to communicate thoughtfully, making it a useful tool when presenting, participating in meetings and even having everyday conversations with colleagues.”

Kent Cyber Security Forum to discuss cyber threats

A one day event at the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus on Thursday 5 September will bring together businesses and organisations with cyber security problems and challenges to meet with cyber security experts and researchers to discuss the increasing number of cyber threats, what can be done to combat them, and how to make businesses and organisations more cyber aware and resilient.

Hosted by the University’s Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS), one of only 19 UK government recognised Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR), the forum will be of interest to those working in industry, and public-sector, higher education and research institutions.

It will also be of particular interest to SMEs and organisations without a dedicated cyber security team, as well as people who are interested in starting their own businesses but lack cyber security expertise.

World-renowned cyber security experts and first-class speakers, Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer from F-Secure, and Dr Jessica Barker, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Cygenta will deliver the keynote talks. A senior speaker from the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, will give an invited talk to start the event. There will also be a stand and a short talk from Kent Police, with the force’s Prevent and Protect Officer for cyber outlining why cyber protection is so important for businesses, the public sector and individuals.

A number of other speakers from the University of Kent and other supporting organisations will also give short talks on what services and help they offer to businesses and organisations.

Across the day there will be free micro-consultancy opportunities, allowing participants to get bespoke advice on their own real-world cyber security problems from experienced cyber security experts in short one-to-one sessions. There will also be exhibitions and demos from the University and other organisations.

Shujun Li, Professor of Cyber Security at the University’s School of Computing and Director of KirCCS, said: ‘From phishing attacks to ransomware, cyberattacks are a real threat to organisations of all sizes including small and medium-sized businesses, large companies, the public sector and charities across the UK and the world. They are also an increasing threat, with an estimated one third of UK SMEs becoming victims of an attack last year.

‘The event’s aim is to inform businesses and organisations not just of the types of cyber threat they need to be aware of but also to help them prepare for, prevent and deal with such threats to their day-to-day operations, in order to reduce costs and harm.’

In addition to the supporting organisations mentioned above, the following organisations will also be present to support the event: the US-based global Cyber Readiness Institute; NCC Group; SecureData; EK Services; GEOTEC Consortium; and Huawei Technologies. Most of the supporting organisations will offer micro-consultancy sessions. The Research England-funded Enabling Innovation: Research to Application (EIRA) project will have a stand providing information on relevant funding opportunities for businesses.

Further information on the Kent Cyber Security Forum (KCSF) 2019, as well as costs/concessions and booking details, can be found at Registration is via

KirCCS harnesses expertise across the University of Kent to address current and potential cyber security challenges. It represents the University as a UK government recognised ACE-CSR. It aims to promote wide-ranging multidisciplinary research, and to teach and develop skills in cyber security to its students and the wider community, through degree programmes, workshops, visits, lectures and training. It works with external organisations to promote cyber security. Building on the success of KirCCS, the University is setting up the Institute of Advanced Studies in Cyber Security and Conflict, which is due to be launched in early 2020.

School sings to save Songbirds!

A Lancashire school teamed up with Blackpool Zoo to add its voice to a global conservation campaign.

After learning about the plight of endangered songbirds in Asia, Layton School, in Blackpool, has been working closely with the zoo’s bird section and education team to raise awareness of the European Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums’ Silent Forest campaign.

Earlier in spring, Blackpool Zoo opened two new Asian Songbird Aviaries and after hearing about the conservation work the team has been carrying out, teachers decided to focus its curriculum around the project.

During the last term of the year, year five pupils visited the zoo’s new aviaries to talk to visitors and they have also completed a variety of project work, which will be on display on the mobile conservation station throughout the holidays.

Lucy Fidler, a year five teacher at Layton School, explained: “The school’s curriculum has focused heavily on The Silent Forest Campaign this term and we have loved working with Blackpool Zoo to support such a fantastic cause.

“The project has given the students a real sense of purpose and seen them produce some of the very best literacy work they have ever written, from fact sheets detailing the species being welcomed into the zoo’s new aviaries, to newspaper articles and even a diary extract written from the perspective of a captured bird!”

The pupils’ work culminated in a performance at the zoo’s Elefest event earlier in July. Lucy added: “The children’s final task was to write and compose a song about the campaign with the help of our school music teacher.

“They performed the finished version at Elefest and, as it went down so well, we have decided to release it on iTunes to help raise money for the campaign.

“It will also be played throughout summer on the zoo’s conservation station.

“Our students really have done themselves and the school proud!”

The Silent Forest campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of songbirds in Asia that are threatened with extinction due to excessive and strongly rooted consumption of wild songbirds for trade, singing competitions, pets, export, traditional medicine and food.

Luke Forster, Head of Blackpool Zoo’s bird section, said he was thrilled to hear that Layton School has chosen to include the project in its curriculum.

He said: “We are over the moon that students at Layton School are learning about the plight of songbirds in Asia and extremely grateful for their fantastic help in raising awareness.

“The children’s artwork looks amazing and will be displayed in our exhibition room from September.

“It was great to hear them sharing their knowledge with visitors when we welcomed them to our Silent Forest Aviary in July and I hope they all have a fantastic break.”

Generation Z shun party holidays in favour of cultural experiences. Young Britons are now choosing scenic sights over sun and sangria

  • 73% of young Britons go on holiday in search of historical or cultural sights
  • 77% of 16-24-year olds are opting to take micro-gaps over longer trips
  • Almost half (44%) of UK adults believe job prospects are enhanced by combining travel and learning

The party may be winding down, as new research commissioned by London Stansted Airport and You Gov, reveals that Gen Z are ditching 18-30 style holidays in search of a more educational experience.

With sun and sangria once the hallmark of a popular holiday package for young people, only one in four 16-24 years olds (24%) say they want to go partying on holiday – which lies in stark contrast to 67% of 25-54 year olds.

Top 10 things for 16-24 year olds to do on holiday
Visit historical or cultural sights (73%)
Eat local food (61%)
Relax on the beach (58%)
Visit nature/wildlife (56%)
Experiencing local communities (35%)
Sports or adventure activities (24%)
Go out partying (24%)
Self-discovery (20%)
Volunteering (8%)
Visit a wellness centre (7%)

Instead, young Britons are increasingly looking for enhanced experiences when going abroad, such as visiting historical or cultural sights (73%), visiting nature or wildlife (56%) or experiencing local communities (35%).

According to the findings by London Stansted Airport, which conducted the research with You Gov to find out more about young people’s travel habits, 16-24 year olds are now investing most of their holiday savings into finding Instagram worthy accommodation (42%), with the same figure  choosing either self-catered apartments or Airbnb in a bid to curate a more tailored trip.

Gen Z are also looking to maximise the time they spend abroad with shorter, more frequent trips instead of spending large amounts of time away from home. Some 77% of 16-24-year olds choose to go on a trip for between three and eight nights at a time compared with only 3% of the same age group who are travelling abroad for between 13 and 14 nights at a time. They are also eschewing the Bank of Mum and Dad with 58% saying they never borrow money from their parents and instead pay for the trips themselves.

With 33% of young Britons aged 16-24 and a further 35% of adults 25-39 admitting they felt travel was important to your overall growth as an adult, it is unsurprising that almost a third (28%) of all UK adults surveyed admitted they spent the most money on holidays.

With competition for graduate jobs becoming fiercer, it is more important than ever to graduating students that a gap year does not equate to a gap-in-your-CV-year. However, the .research showed that 44% of UK adults felt that the job prospects of younger people are improved if they combine travel with a skills course

Exploring the micro gapping trend and how young people are organising their travel and personal finances, London Stansted Airport has created the Go-Gap Travel Collection, to inspire young travellers passing through the airport to hone their passions abroad to benefit future careers.

Lois Robertson, Brand and Marketing Manager at London Stansted Airport commented: “It’s interesting to see that young people are shifting away from party holidays in favour of trips that allow self-development and enhance their minds. The focus on self-improvement follows with gap year experiences that allow Millennials and Gen Z to hone their passions and develop skills that they put towards getting their foot on the career ladder. Each traveller is different in what they want to get out of their Gap Year, and while each of the Go-Gap Travel packages draws on different experiences, all our packages highlight the value of travel on later life investment. Our partnership with Student Universe makes gap year travel more accessible by offering value for money.’ 

Avaya and Loughborough Schools Foundation launch UK-first communications solution to help keep students safe and staff connected

Avaya smart campus solutions increase security and child safety, encouraging smarter use of communications and collaboration

Guildford, UK – July 24th 2019 – Avaya Holdings Corp. (NYSE: AVYA) today announces that its technology has enabled Loughborough Schools Foundation, a group of four independent schools and a nursery in Leicestershire, to introduce a ‘Safe School’ solution, the first of its kind in the UK, and putting the school’s communications technology strategy far ahead of that traditionally found in the education sphere. The solution was implemented by Loughborough-based telecoms company and Avaya business partner, Evoke Telecom.

The Foundation is taking an omnichannel approach to campus communications and school safety, so that when the Foundation needs to broadcast a message it can do so instantly. The Avaya smart campus telephony solution, which links all campuses in the Foundation together in one single telecoms system, is central to realising its ambitions to help keep every student safe and give teachers and staff the latest innovations in digital communications technology.

Many education leaders in the UK are calling for schools to remain a safe environment amid a spate of increasing violent incidents, according to a Freedom of Information request made by The Guardian. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), knife crime has increased by 22% in England and Wales since 2014. Combined with this, students are increasingly digitally savvy. With 25% of children under 6 already having their own mobile phone, in many cases students can communicate faster than teachers and school staff who are relying on outdated systems.

With responsibility for more than 2,000 fee-paying pupils across its premises, the Foundation takes safety extremely seriously. Even before a UK government consultation on school safety, the Foundation was exploring systems that would allow classroom lockdown, as well as lockout, to give it greater control of its large campuses in an emergency. It also wanted a system to enable staff to more efficiently communicate with each other, students’ families and emergency services.

The Foundation selected Avaya smart campus IP telephony solutions to connect more than 600 Avaya handsets in classrooms and offices across the educational establishment. The solution enables the Foundation to communicate through traditional phones, simultaneous SMS messages, as well as through screen pops on computer terminals and broadcast messages over tannoys and digital radio. Using an advanced network of communication channels it will be able to implement both lockdown and lockout instantly across every campus, potentially including the ability to control electronic door locks in the future. This is functionality that wasn’t possible with the disparate mix of phone systems and handsets the Foundation was using previously.

Richard Smeeton, Director of IT, Loughborough Schools Foundation, said, “We are committed to going above and beyond to ensure our students are safe and our teachers are empowered to deliver that through sophisticated communications systems that are at the forefront of technology innovation. Not only can we now give parents better peace of mind, but because external communication is now much more efficient, school admin staff have been reporting how much easier it is to find pupils who missed registration. Our IT support has also been transformed with direct contact reducing ticket numbers and resulting in faster resolution and less wasted lesson time.”

“It is simply not acceptable that students often have more means of effective communication between them than teachers – and with the help of Avaya we’ve moved way beyond these outdated systems. Above all, we believe that student safety and effective school operations shouldn’t be held back by a lack of investment – for us this is a priority,” Smeeton concluded.

Katie James, a parent of three boys who attend the Foundation’s Prep School, said, “We put our trust in school staff to protect our children, so it gives me great peace of mind to know that the Foundation is so thorough and forward looking when it comes to considering, implementing and thereby protecting the safety of the pupils. It’s also incredibly reassuring to know that their teachers no longer have to rely on outdated technology to communicate with each other and parents. I hope other schools across the country take note.”

Ioan MacRae, Managing Director, Avaya UK, said, “It’s a proud moment when you can say that you’ve helped the education world not only become more secure but operate much more effectively on a day-to-day basis. The Loughborough Schools Foundation is demonstrating the future of what innovative communications technology can achieve and this underlines the point that it is not only the traditional business world that can reap the benefits.”

David Wardell, Managing Director, Evoke Telecom, said, “We’re on the cusp of lockdown solutions becoming commonplace in schools, with Germany having mandated them and the UK consulting on school safety. The Loughborough Schools Foundation has recognised this need for additional security and together with Avaya we helped them implement a future-proofed communication system that could allow it to deliver on the additional safety requirements, while overcoming other communication challenges. What’s most exciting is that this really is just the beginning and the potential of Avaya smart campus solutions to integrate with different technologies means that the Loughborough Schools Foundation can scale and evolve its communication strategy long into the future.”

To date, there has been no requirement to use the lockdown features, although the Foundation has carried out a series of robust tests in multiple scenarios.

Student wins coveted European scholarship

A Shropshire student who travelled from Armenia to join the sixth form at Wrekin College has won a highly-coveted full scholarship to study economics in Madrid.

Margarita Gevorgyan faced a tough four-month application process to win the scholarship which covers all expenses associated with her degree including accommodation, tuition fees and travel expenses.

It is the only scholarship of its kind awarded by the IE University in Spain each year and follows on from Margarita winning an HMC scholarship at Wrekin.

The degree course she is now about to embark on is highly regarded across Europe featuring not only the core subjects associated with economics but also coding, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies.

“Wrekin chose me and I am so delighted it did as this has been such a fantastic experience and it has led to this,” said Margarita.

The 17-year-old has just completed A’Levels in Accounting, Maths and Business Studies with her results due this summer.

“I have loved every minute of my time here. At first, it was quite a culture shock arriving in a highly developed European country compared to where I live back home but the support I have received here opened up so many new opportunities for me.”

Margarita said a programme about the first women on the New York Stock Exchange had inspired her ambitions for the future.

“Women like Stacey Cunningham the first president of the New York Stock Exchange are changing things in male-dominated environments. It is inspiring all of us to know everything is possible – equality is possible. It is where I want to work one day and I now believe I can do what I really want to do.”

Margarita had to complete both online tasks and presentations before reaching the shortlist which saw her travel to Madrid for another assessment and interview to win her place at IE University.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the email to say it had been awarded to me. It is such an exciting opportunity and I plan to make the most of it. Unlike other courses which teach traditional economics, this includes a lot of contemporary skills I want to learn. The jobs market is ever-changing but I feel prepared to take on this challenge.”

The teenager has now travelled home to Armenia to spend time with her family before returning to her studies in September adding that her parents and two older siblings were very proud of her achievements.

“I will miss Wrekin so much. It has been such a wonderful place to be over the last two years. I loved boarding which created a second family away from home for me. In Armenia, children are threatened with boarding school as a punishment but I enjoyed every minute here. It is a real community and there was always someone there when I needed them. My housemaster was the best I could have asked for.”

Headmaster Mr Tim Firth said they were very proud of Margarita who had shown such determination in her studies to reach this point.

“This university scholarship is highly sought after by students and it is quite the accolade to have won it and in such a highly competitive discipline. I know it will be a wonderful experience for Margarita and I am delighted that we were able to be a part of such an exciting journey and open up those all-important opportunities for Margarita.”


Triton Construction has secured a contract worth £2 million to build a new extension at Penistone Grammar School in Barnsley.

The overall investment by the local authority was for a two-phase project:

  1. Internal re-modelling that was completed in October 2018 to enable an additional 50 year 7 students to be accommodated in the 2018/19 academic year and as part of the long-term plan to accommodate a further 50 students year on year.
  2. A new two storey extension building linked by a walkway to the main school which will include six new classrooms, two science labs, toilets, staff work spaces and new IT offices. It will facilitate demand for places as part of the long-term plan allowing an additional intake of 50 new students per year, over five years (250 in total), taking the total number of aged 11 – 16 students to 1,600.

Councillor Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “The investment the council has made in this project meets our Town Spirit ethos – Achieve it, and reinforces our commitment to provide the right quantity and the very best quality of school places to help every child achieve their potential.

“The additional places at Penistone Grammar will be a huge benefit to the borough and will add much-needed resource to a well-performing school.”

Paul Crook, Principal at Penistone Grammar said, “We are pleased to be working with the team at Triton to deliver a fantastic new, state of the art facility for our students and staff.  This represents a very exciting time for the school. The school is really going from strength to strength.

“Triton have worked closely with the school to ensure there is minimal disruption to our students learning. In fact, the project will add value to the learning experiences of our young people, specifically those studying technology-based subjects who will engage with Triton for a first-hand experience.”

Triton is working alongside AA Projects as Project Manager, Principal Designer and Quantity Surveyor on the project.  It has already started preparation works on site and will be working within a live environment for approximately 44 weeks until the project completes in Spring 2020.

Ian Chapman Construction Director at Triton Construction said, “We are pleased to secure this contract and assist the expansion of Penistone Grammar which is evidently a high-performing school. 

“The project is interesting due to its conservation requirements and we will be moving two pieces of stonework that were the gateposts to the original school in 1392 to the front of the building.  A stone bath from the original workhouse will also be moved into the centre of Penistone Grammar School for heritage purposes and we need to be mindful of trees on the estate which are under preservation orders and will be planting more as part of the associated landscaping. The new building will also have a Sedum roof to bring a whole host of benefits to the building and the local environment.”

Triton Construction has extensive experience in all areas of the education sector with ongoing new build school projects in Wakefield & Bolton. Recent project completions including a new library and further refurbishments for Leeds College of Music, a £2.3 million High Needs Vocational Centre for Shipley College, a £3.5 million science block and state of the art learning link for Bradford Grammar School and a £4 million transformation of a derelict building to house Norfolk Park Special School in Sheffield.